Cisco introduces an iPad competitor?

Continuing our iPad analysis here at Trade Secrets, I found it interesting that networking giant Cisco has introduced an iPad clone. However, Cisco was quick to say its pad, the Cius (“see us”), is not a competitor to the iPad, but rather, a pad for the business market. The device will be out in 2011.

(Why would Cisco say this? Possibly because Apple has sold 3 million iPads in a few weeks, and Cisco doesn’t want to be seen as being trounced in the pad market like others have been trounced by the iPhone in the smartphone market.)

What is really meaningful about the Cisco announcement is that others are venturing into the pad market. I’ve maintained that monopolies on technology aren’t good for the future of digital media, and historically haven’t been good for Apple, either. However, Apple is on an i-roll the past several years, from iPod to iPhone to iPad, not only driving forward the cutting edge of what it means to read a magazine, but defining what’s cool as well.

Unlike the iPad, the Cius’ operating system is Android, meaning that it’s not proprietary and is therefore more user-friendly for application developers.

I can’t help but think that while Apple has set the bar and become the clear, runaway leader in the pad market, that we should be careful about using terms like “developing content for the iPad” or “putting our magazine on the iPad.” Why? Because the iPad is brand name that’s become synonymous with a product, like Kleenex, Xerox, iPod, Coke, Q-Tip and others.

Those of us in the publishing and media world should think less about Apple and think more about terms like mobile and immersive, because that’s what pads are, whether Apple makes them, or Cisco, or Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.com. Or even if our readers are viewing content on an Acer netbook. The future is not Apple—the future is the pad, and Apple makes the best pad right now. They might make the best pad tomorrow, too, although history says that the first out of the gate aren’t always the ones that win (does anyone have a “Palm Pilot”?).

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